Each year, MAPH Partners with several Chicago cultural, literary, and non-profit organizations to provide paid summer internships designed specifically for MAPH students. One of these opportunities, the Torch Fellowship, gives students the opportunity to reach out to an organization of their choice to propose a summer internship project. This fellowship, named in honor of Rafael Torch, writer, teacher and MAPH alum from 2005, was offered for the first time in Summer 2012. The service fellowship in his name offers one graduate student funding for an otherwise unpaid internship in any non-sectarian, non-profit social justice, community-building, or other service- or outreach-focused organization in Chicago during the summer after graduation. The fellowship is intended to promote connections between humanistic inquiry and service work outside the academy in the city of Chicago.
Rachel Kamins (MAPH’15) was awarded the Torch Fellowship last summer and agreed to write a blogpost for us about her experience working with Universidad Popular.
One of my goals going into MAPH, after having been in a career for a few years already, was to use the program to help me shift to a different line of work. I had been editing academic manuscripts for scholars and publishers. I wanted to move into a position where I could edit a bigger variety of work, where I could be involved in projects that called more on my own creativity and interests, and where I could feel like my work was making a positive impact on a broader piece of the world. I figured that working for a nonprofit would help me tick those boxes, especially at a small organization where I could more easily play a range of roles and take on various responsibilities
One of my particular interests was working with learners of English as a second language. A lot of my editing clients have been nonnative speakers, and I focused on ESL acquisition via studying linguistics in MAPH in order to better understand these learners’ experiences and challenges. I saw the Torch Fellowship as a great opportunity to put all these pieces together by working on writing and editing projects at a nonprofit that serves ESL learners.
I Googled ESL nonprofits in Chicago, reached out to a few of them, had informational interviews at a couple, and ended up being very excited to work with Universidad Popular. Headquartered in the Little Village neighborhood on the west side, UP is one of the organizations helping the large community of immigrants to Chicago from Central and South America feel at home in their new country, through social services, cultural events, and community centers. I was bowled over by the immediately obvious warmth, friendliness, energy, and courage of the staff and volunteers at UP as well as of their participants.